As I am in New Zealand, I have been frustrated that my cellphone is programmed to US English (and I can’t figure out how to change it) so I end up using -ize endings when I use predictive text. I sometimes wonder if people think that I don’t know the correct spelling for New Zealand English. Do they even know if it is wrong in New Zealand English?
I wonder if US English-style predicative text usage has a part to play in the confusion that surrounds whether to use -ise or -ize endings in New Zealand English.
What are -ise and -ize endings?
Many verbs that end in -ise can also end in -ize as an alternative spelling.
Verbs such as organise/organize, realise/realize and finalise/finalize fall into this category.
Exception to the rule
In all forms of English there are some verbs that always end in -ise. This is because in these words the -ise is part of the word rather than being a separate ending. The Oxford Dictionaries blog has a list of these, but they include common words such as advertise, advise, comprise, devise, exercise, promise and surprise.
There are some verbs which take –yse or –yze endings. A few examples are: analyse/analyze, catalyse/catalyze, hydrolyse/hydrolyze and paralyse/paralyze.
What’s the difference?
In British English, most style guides use -ise endings, but there are a few British style guides (such as the Oxford University Press) that still prefer -ize endings (except for in words that are exceptions to the rule).
This can cause confusion in British English, as we often read that -ize endings are exclusive to American English. In fact, -ize endings have been in use in British English since the 15th century. Its use spread to America where it stuck, and the British now have two styles.
American English always uses -ize endings, except for in words that are the exceptions.
New Zealand English – the easy option
In New Zealand English, we use the ‘s’ option (-ise or -yse endings) in all cases. This makes it easy to remember. We don’t even have to worry about the exceptions as they are already -ise.
Marja Stack is a copy-editor and proofreader based in New Zealand. Her business, Clearlingo Editing and Proofreading, caters to all writers, whether business, non-fiction or fiction. For more information or enquiries please see her website: www.clearlingo.co.nz.
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